I love reading books on and about the process of writing. Not just because I’m always interested in improving my own writing, but because I find the complicated and often maddening ordeal of creating a story fascinating. And sometimes never ending. And sometimes infuriating. And sometimes. . . Okay, someone stop me. Please.
Anyway, I wonder if there is any writer anywhere that feels that his or her writing no longer needs improvement. Someone who has perfected his or her craft. If so, I bow to that writer. Bravo! Assuming the answer is no (maybe with an added duh!) for others, I thought that I would share some of my favorite “how to” sorts of books from time to time on this blog. Today’s pick: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book is packed with great information. After each chapter, there is a checklist and exercises. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of lists, but beyond that, I really did find these checklists to be kind of great. On the other hand, I’m not such a huge fan of exercises, but it’s nice to know that I have a book to go to should I ever run out of things to do on a Saturday night. And guess what? Even the authors did the exercises. They include their answers in the appendix, as a kind of FYI for their readers. How cool is that?
The guts of the book break down something like this: A chapter on showing versus telling. Hello, I’ve read this section more than once. There is another chapter on characterization and exposition, which discusses the importance of when and how to define characters so that they grow on the reader naturally. And there are also chapters on point of view, dialogue mechanics, character voice, interior monologue, and rhythm. I got out my highlighter for Chapter 8. It gets into how some types of paragraphs can and should add tension and momentum, while other paragraphs need to slow down and develop intimacy and/or suspense. There is also another chapter that discusses sophistication in writing. Interesting.
Okay, there’s my first pick. A well-written and succinct book that I have turned to more than once. A book that sits on my desk, waiting for when I’ll need it again. So, what do you think?